Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers - Natalie Anderson

As many of you will know, the romance community is mourning the loss of our wonderful, talented Sandra Hyatt. Sandra died suddenly after taking ill during the Romance Writers of New Zealand annual conference. Over at the LoveCats blog today, several of us have posted tributes to Sandra - if you would like to read them, or share your thoughts, that would be lovely.

I had been at the conference and had the privilege of spending a wonderful hour late on Friday night with Sandra and some of her closest friends. I still can't believe she took ill so quickly from then.

On Sunday I was at the airport, my boarding call being announced when I got the call from another friend to say that Sandra had passed on. Almost the last to board the plane, with no tissues in hand to mop the streams, the other passengers averting their eyes, I was a mess.

And I felt sorry for the young woman I was seated next to - I think most of us are uncomfortable with raw emotion in public places. Inside you feel pained for the person, but there's often not a lot you can do. You don't know what to say.

But this young woman was amazing. She didn't bury her head in a magazine, she didn't look away, instead she looked at me, with open body language and a calm expression. I apologised and made a brief explanation. And she waited.

So I ended up talking. She asked easy, gentle, interested questions. We talked that entire flight - I told her about Sandra. We shared earthquake stories. She told me about her life, her partner, her work. I got to a point where I could breathe again. I mopped up - frequently. I even laughed. She got me through a really rough hour. And I am so grateful to her. She was so very kind.

Somewhere in Christchurch there's a lovely young woman named Bianca. To her, I say thank you.

And my sincerest condolences to Sandra's family and those closest to her. She was a wonderful woman who is greatly missed.


Melanie Milburne said...

Oh Natalie, isn't life so sad at times? I think people like your lovely stranger Bianca are so important in times like this. She obviously had the courage to face your emotion head on. Not many people do, as you say. It is so amazing in tragic times how a complete stranger can be of more help than someone you know well.
My sincere condolences to Sandra's family and friends. We all take turns on the swings and roundabouts of life.
Take care.

Nas Dean said...

Hi Natalie,

I heard around the same time as you, about Sunday 6pm my time. And couldn't control my tears. Even now I tear up, I'm more close to my online friends than relatives.

Emails were going forth and back from Kate Walker and me and I was so shattered that I mentioned to her, and then she emailed me back to clarify and give more information as she simply couldn't believe. It was not announced yet and I couldn't get any information as to why and how. And I kept crying. Kate Walker sent me nice consoling emails.

Later I got some information from Jackie from NZ and forwarded to Kate Walker.

Yes, it is so devastating when we receive such news of people whom we know. I never met her yet I was so raw, I can't imagine what you went through. Thanks you, Bianca.

My thoughts and prayers are with Sandra's family.

Helen Lacey said...

What heartfelt and lovely words. It's amazing how sometimes the kidness of strangers can get us through a dark time.
From the many tributes Sandra has received she was clearly a special woman.
A courageous post and I thank you for sharing.

marybelle said...

I am moved. I am touched.

Heidi Rice said...

Natalie, I'm so sad this happened. I never had the pleasure of meeting Sandra but from the tributes and outpouring of grief from her many friends on the internet it's clear she was a very special lady.

So glad you had someone there when you needed them. I've always believed that the vast majority of people are kind and good. And Bianca proves it.

H x

Caroline said...

Oh how lovely Bianca sounds - and how poignant/right that she was there for you in your hour of need. Caroline x

Michele L. said...

I am sorry to hear about the loss of Sandra. I was definitely moved to tears reading your blog Natalie. I will deeply miss her also.

Pat Cochran said...

This is a real loss to the literary
world, both as an author and as a real-
life friend. I never met her, just knew
her through the blogs. I am touched by
all the lovely descriptions of Sandra.
My condolences to all!

Pat Cochran